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UPDATED: Hemsley’s Funeral Wednesday

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Nearly four months after his death, “The Jeffersons” actor Sherman Hemsley will finally be laid to rest on Wednesday, the El Paso Times reported.

The funeral will be at noon at Cielo Vista Church in El Paso, and burial will follow at Fort Bliss National Cemetery, the Times said. Hemsley, who joined the U.S. Air Force after high school, will be buried with military honors.

Flora Isela Enchinton Bernal, Hemsley’s friend and business partner, told the Times that the actor’s funeral will be open to everyone because that is what he would have wanted.


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“He loved acting but he never knew what an ego was,” Enchinton told the paper. “He loved life and loved everything. I wish the whole world knew him.”

The funeral and burial were delayed at length when Hemsley’s biological brother, Richard Thornton of Philadelphia, challenged Enchinton’s right to the actor’s estate, but after a DNA test and several other delays, an El Paso probate judge ruled in Enchinton’s favor on Nov. 9, the Times said.

6:37am 10/31/12 — TV Actor’s Estate Trial Put Off

By ABQnews Staff

The trial over the estate of “The Jeffersons” actor Sherman Hemsley has been postponed until Nov. 9, court officials told the El Paso Times.

The trial originally was scheduled for today, but Judge Patricia B. Chew granted an extension on Tuesday, according to court records.

Hemsley died July 24 from lung cancer and left his estate to longtime manager Flora Isela Engchinton Bernal, but Richard Thornton challenged the will, saying he is Hemsley’s brother and rightful beneficiary, the Times said.

The late actor’s body has been kept in an East El Paso funeral home freezer since his death, according to the paper.


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6:22am 9/25/12 — Judge Orders DNA Tests in TV Actor’s Death

EL PASO (AP) — A probate judge in West Texas has ordered DNA testing on a man who claims to be the brother of actor Sherman Hemsley.

Judge Patricia Chew on Monday delayed the El Paso trial on the estate of the star of “The Jeffersons” television show. Hemsley died July 24 of lung cancer. His body remains at an El Paso funeral home amid the dispute.

Hemsley’s will names his longtime manager Flora Enchinton of El Paso as sole beneficiary.

Richard Thornton of Philadelphia sought the DNA testing and must provide results by Oct. 15. The estate trial has been rescheduled for Oct. 31.

Hemsley was born in Philadelphia but lived in El Paso for the past 20 years.

Court documents indicate Hemsley’s estate is worth more than $50,000.

8:55am 8/29/12 — TV Actor’s Body on Ice in El Paso Funeral Home

By ABQnews Staff

The body of television icon Sherman Hemsley lies frozen in a locked refrigerator at an El Paso funeral home more than a month after his death while a Philadelphia man who claims to be the actor’s brother contests his will, KVIA ABC-7 reported.

“It is disgraceful. It is sad. This was a man with dignity,” said Flora Enchinton, a longtime friend of Hemsley’s and executrix of his will.

Enchinton told ABC-7 she had known Hemsley for 20 years, lived with him in El Paso for more than a decade, and was his manager, partner and best friend.

A will signed by Hemsley in June 2012 listed her as his executrix and sole heir to all his holdings, KVIA reported.

But Richard Thornton, who claims to be Hemsley’s brother, has contested the will, halting all burial and memorial services, and an El Paso probate court has ordered that Hemsley’s body stay locked in a freezer at the San Jose Funeral Home, according to ABC-7.

Thornton has requested all of Hemsley’s possessions as well as his frozen body, the station reported.

Enchinton told KVIA she’d never heard of Thornton in all her years with Hemsley, who died of lung cancer on July 24, and biographies of Hemsley refer to him as an only child.

8:03am 8/8/12 — Lung Cancer Killed Sherman Hemsley

By ABQnews Staff

An El Paso medical examiner’s report concluded that former longtime television actor Sherman Hemsley — who was famous for playing George Jefferson in “The Jeffersons” — died of lung cancer, according to KVIA ABC-7.

“It is the opinion of this examiner that this man died from a superior vena cava syndrome as a result of a lung mass,” said the post-mortem report (pdf download), a copy of which was obtained by the television program TMZ. “A review of the medical records indicates that he was advised to have chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Subsequently he developed a superior vena cava syndrome. The manner of death is natural.”

Hemsley, 74, was found dead on July 24 at his east El Paso home, KVIA reported. He had lived in El Paso for more than 10 years.